Minimalism forces me to be intentional and slow down. I have started to think before I talk. I think before I buy. I think before I act. For me, minimalism has been about getting off auto-pilot and finding a better rhythm that suits both myself and my family.
Denaye Barahona, Simple Families
Learn To Appreciate What You Have
Slow Down. Step Back
At first glance, minimalism might seem to be about giving up things, clearing things out of your life. Getting started on a minimalist journey can often mean getting caught in clutter and confusion and forgetting to be grateful for what we have in the rush to cut back.
There is another side to downsizing and clearing things from our lives. It is about making time to make decisions about what you keep in your life – and what to NOT keep. Learning to let go can provide clarity new perspective and a greater sense of control. With the right mindset, clearing out can contribute to an increase of calm and life satisfaction leading to more gratitude for the things and people that surround you.
The practice of being more intentional about the possessions and experiences you choose makes you more aware of the positive people and things in your life, which makes us more grateful for those things that we most value. Here are a few ways that minimalism might contribute to more gratitude.
The minimalist lifestyle is one that you create with intention and thoughtful choices. As a result, you have a reason for choosing all your possessions and experiences, which tends to mean less second guessing or buyer’s’ regret. This helps you put ownership and connection into perspective, as you better understand what makes you happy. As a result, you are likely to become even more aware about why the people and things around you bring you fulfillment and satisfaction, which often leads to a feeling of abundance and gratitude.
As shown in earlier posts in this challenge (How Minimalism Can Save Time) a life of minimalism with fewer things frees up time that you might previously have spent on taking care of stuff. This will help you discover more time to enjoy and appreciate what is most important.
Reducing your clutter and your commitments gives you more freedom to engage with people and activities that bring you joy. You won’t have to spend as much time working to pay for excess materials things and experiences.
And by reducing commitments and choose to engage only with the people who bring you joy, you again create time and space for the things and people you enjoy. Consequently, you will likely find that you are more grateful and feel more in control, especially when you compare it to a more hectic lifestyle before embracing the move to a simpler life.
When you choose your things and experiences with intention, you are going to be more content with those choices. You’ve thought them through. You’ve prioritized. Therefore, you’re more likely to feel satisfied with your choices and decisions. This creates a solid foundation for gratitude. In addition, less clutter reduces confusion and indecision. If you have less stuff and more space, you can get a better sense of what you have, what you want and what you need. In addition, with less stuff, you’ll be less overwhelmed with stuff or by the distraction of looking for things that you know you have. All of this provides better clarity and helps to enhance a sense of gratitude.
One of the ways that simplifying my life has helped me feel more grateful is by prompting me to really take stock of what I have. While going through stored boxes, I have rediscovered forgotten treasures. Sometimes, they were things that I wanted to keep and upcycle or display; other times, they were items that brought back pleasant memories but that I did not need to keep in my life – and certainly not stored in a box on the back of a shelf. It made me grateful for past experiences and collections that had brought me joy as well as the chance to revisit them with more intention.
Many people with blogs or podcasts about minimalism or decluttering have described a variety of ways that these approaches have helped them to feel more gratitude. I’m confident you’ll encounter similar results as you pursue a minimalist path.
Challenge Questions for Day 23
Has simplifying your life lead to more gratitude? Why or Why not?
What changes has it brought in your mindset?
What about your current home or lifestyle brings you gratitude?
Declutter Challenge for Day 23
Tackle your book collection (or a part of it – maybe one shelf or one pile). Keep only books that you still want to read – or read again. Consider getting rid of books that you have read but do not need to read again, old text books, books that did not capture your interest, how-do books for hobbies or projects that no longer hold appeal, books that someone left behind — or any others that will not be used, read and appreciated. Find new homes for ones that no longer are needed / wanted in your home. Schools, shelters, community book sharing, college libraries, and church sales are a few options.
Images created by M.E. O’Toole in Canva